Hours after learning he was no longer wanted by the New Jersey Nets, Carmelo Anthony responded by treating Denver Nugget fans to 35 points in a 112-107 home victory over the Oklahoma City Thunder on Wednesday.
Chauncey Billups and Nene added 16 points apiece for the Nuggets, who will have to search for new trade avenues for their franchise player after Nets ownership decided the proposed 15-player deal had become too public and too expensive.
Anthony was rumored to be headed to the Nets in a three-team deal that also involved Detroit. He refused to meet with Nets personnel regarding a potential contract extension earlier in the week and heard boos while giving a postgame interview.
Despite the drama, Anthony made 12-of-25 shots and 11-of-14 free throws in his first 30-point game since Jan. 5 vs. the Los Angeles Clippers.
The Thunder took an 89-87 lead early in the fourth quarter on Eric Maynor’s 3-pointer but managed one basket over the next 4 1/2 minutes as the Nuggets took over the lead.
Oklahoma City stayed within five points for the next nine minutes, drawing within one on Russell Westbrook’s layup with 3:30 to play. But Anthony hit a runner in the lane and Billups knocked down a jumper to push it back to 108-103 with 2:31 remaining.
Westbrook finished with 28 points and 10 assists and Kevin Durant scored 22 for the Thunder, who have lost seven straight visits to the Pepsi Center.